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Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service: Data Protection

Volume 471: debated on Wednesday 30 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) if he will make a statement on the action progressed against the United Kingdom by the European Union for failing to implement European Directive 95/46/EU on the basis that there is no lex forum for a Children and Family Courts Advisory Support Service report to be rectified; and if he will make a statement; (182143)

(2) what mechanisms exist to allow litigants to correct inaccuracies in a Children and Family Courts Advisory Support Service report when a family court judge does not order rectification and assertion remains disputed; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what assessment he has made of the impact of European Directive 95/46/EU on the ability of an individual to correct inaccurate information contained in a Children and Family Courts Advisory Support Service report; and if he will make a statement.

I have been asked to reply.

It is the practice of CAFCASS to ensure that the parties to proceedings in which a CAFCASS officer has been appointed have access to the CAFCASS report before it is presented to the court. Where factual inaccuracies are brought to the attention of the CAFCASS officer, the correct information is included in the report and the error noted in the file. It is also the case that differences of opinion or judgment are routinely reflected in CAFCASS reports. In addition, concerns about the factual accuracy or other aspects of the report (for example, the extent of the inquiries, the opinions expressed in it or matters disputed by the parties) may be raised in court during the course of the proceedings. It is for the court to make findings of fact, based on the evidence before it, including the contents of the CAFCASS report, and to determine the outcome of applications based on those findings. CAFCASS’ records include details of the findings and determinations made by the courts.

Compliance with Article 22 of Directive 95/46/EC is achieved through the Data Protection Act 1998 section 14(1), under the terms of which a data subject can apply to court for rectification, blocking, erasure or destruction of personal data relating to him or her. If the personal data are inaccurate, the court can make an order not only in relation to those data but also any other personal data relating to the applicant containing an expression of opinion which appears to the court to be based on the inaccurate data.